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Days after the largest mass protests in Hong Kong’s history, Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Special Administrative Region (SAR), has suspended consideration of a proposed law that would allow extraditions from the city to mainland China. The move is prudent, but great damage has been done to Lam’s standing and the proposal has deepened the yawning chasm between Hong Kong residents and the Chinese government in Beijing. More worrisome are potential impacts outside Hong Kong.

An estimated 2 million people — nearly one-third of the Hong Kong population — took to the streets to protest a bill that would allow the city to send criminal suspects to mainland China to face trial. The bill followed a case in which a Hong Kong resident murdered a woman while vacationing in Taiwan, returned home and then admitted to the crime. He could not be charged in Taiwan, nor extradited to the island because Hong Kong has no extradition agreement with Taipei. This bill was intended to remedy that (as Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China, the first step is extradition to the mainland.) While the Beijing government supported the proposal, it has insisted — and Lam acknowledged — that the idea was hers.

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